Hello March

Hello March

Hello March!

If there is one month that I never liked it has to be March — although this year I am having a different thought about March.

Why did I hate on March so much? Probably because it has 31 days in it and it feels like the longest bridge between winter and spring. There is still a need to wear winter clothes and gear outdoors – ugh! More often than not, when I look out my windows, I see gray, rain, maybe even snow flurries! Ugh! I am ready to be done and there March stands in my way!

I am feeling a little different this year and maybe this has to do with how long proper winter has felt — i.e. December, January, and February — talk about dragging on. This year as I see March dawn, I see on the calendar where we are going to “spring ahead” with our clocks (more light!) and warmer temperatures even as we experience atmospheric rain rivers in Seattle. As I look further into my calendar, St. Patrick’s Day is almost around the corner — time to make some Irish Road Bread – and, if you are a Christian, Lent begins where it truly is 40 days of waiting.

Waiting. I suppose that is what March represents to me — whether I am waiting impatiently for spring and can’t stand March or breathing a sigh of relief that I can see some hints of spring even as I wait it out — this is a month about waiting for me. Waiting for warmth, for long days, for summer fruits and vegetables, for vacation days, for BBQs, for everything that is not winter.

Do you wait with active patience or passive patience? I was reading a little note about this recently. That one can just be passive and not do much as one practices patience for whatever she is anticipating to come. One can be active as she practices patience as well. In this case, perhaps buying some seeds and beginning to plant them in cups, buying flowers for one’s self, layering in lighter clothes, changing over one’s closet from winter to spring, cooking up a spring recipe — and I am sure there are more active ways to practice patience through this long bridge to spring.

Oh! And let’s not forget that the spring equinox is in March! It really is just around the corner — that’s what I keep telling myself!

Making the Dark Days Cozy

I’ve been waking up at my usual time — about 5 am — recently and can’t believe how long it takes to see the dawn. I keep thinking it is mid to late January — surely now I will see the light around 6:45 to 7 am. Alas, no! It’s dark until around 8 am and then a bit of twilight time for the next hour. I know we are gaining light, but at this exact moment it doesn’t feel like it.

What can any of us do when winter and the darkness seems to descend for an endless loop. Well, first thing, is to hold on to one’s mine and remember – quite literally – we are gaining time. Check out your local weather forecast and they tell you the sunrise and sunset times for each day. It is indeed a fact that the days are lengthening — even if they don’t quite feel like they are just yet.

Second, this is the time to take a page out of the hyggle lifestyle and make these dark days cozy. The Danes definitely know a thing or two about making their lives cozy during winter. It’s a fun little read. The idea was all the rage about five years ago, but such concepts never truly go out of style and so here are a few ideas for making your home and life cozy during these dark days of late January into February.

Cozy up to your favorite hot beverage — cocoa, coffee, tea, or any number of other fancy hot drinks. Enjoy the ritual of making it for yourself and really taste the warmth in the depths of our cold temperatures.

Knit, crochet, or just touch material that is warm and soft — cashmere anyone? It’s always soothing to make things out of these materials, but if you aren’t into such craft projects, even touching something soft and warm can bring coziness to your days.

Make a meal — perhaps a rich stew or slow cooker meal? Try your hand at making something delicious that will not only keep your stomach full and warm, but allows people around your dinner table to linger and savor each other’s company as they enjoy the meal. Being with people as you “break bread” can lead to a light that is kindled deep within.

Bath anyone? Can there be anything better than a warm to hot bath with salts and bubbles? Get your temperature just right and soak away. Bring into the bath a favorite book, podcast, drink, and more and linger, relax and unwind. Don’t forget to light a candle or two.The ultimate to creating a warm, relaxing feel. Towel off and use moisturizers and oils to extend the self pampering.

Light a fire or candles. If you have a fire pit outdoors, light it and cuddle up around it with warm outdoor blankets. Just looking into a flame can be meditative and relaxing. Also, as it gets dark early in evening, it is nice to light candles to continue the light at soft levels. Add candles to your dinner table too — it’s not just for special occasions.

Get in touch with yourself. With the pandemic still raging and light hardly around more of us are finding ourselves indoors. This is the time for vision boards, journals, and other inner wanderings where we can be in touch and in flow with ourselves that may be harder to do when warmer weather abounds and one wants to be outdoors in the literal light. For now, give yourself the gift of introspection to shine a light within.

When you do see the sun outside during the previous daylight hours, get out into it. Walk, run, have your hot beverage outdoors. Take in that shot of pure Vitamin D and let it soak in. Seriously, it will help you find even more contentment when the darkness arrives way too early in the evening.

These are just a few ideas to making the dark days cozy. I think the Groundhog is about to climb out of the ground and let us know how much more winter to expect — 6 more weeks or not? Whatever the time, enjoy each day and make it cozy.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year
Happy 2022!

Happy New Year.

We are only a few wee hours into 2022 — does it feel like a new page for you? Of course there is always the annual stress that occurs post-Christmas to think about the past year and find some things to renew and resolve for the new one. Funny, does one evening and the flip of a day really carry that much on its shoulders? It strikes me that the calendar day/year is set up like this and then we follow suit. How to unwind?

I was reading an article the other day about how the Gen Z and Millenial generations are no longer waiting for the magic of January 1 to begin anew, but beginning wherever and whatever day they are on. As I read the article, this was not a new concept in the least, but perhaps it is so much more a “here and now” society the idea of waiting on anything — even a new year to begin — seems like a waste.

I am not sure if you make resolutions. I am now hearing people call them intentions these days. Resolutions, Intentions — it all seems to me to be a moment of actual reflection and a place to build a bridge between the old and the new. Why do we want to slam the door so hard on the old and seek to wash our hands of our “bad” habits or those things that were less than what we wanted for ourselves. We all know that by the end of January everything that is new is yet old again.

I recommend recognizing this and building a bridge. It’s often a wonderful thing to take stock of all the good that the old year held for us — what are we proud of, what was a highlight, what motivated us to do better, what did we learn, how did we express our curiosity? From there, how would it look to have more of that and what else? Can any of these things build bridges to other habits and moments. So, it is no longer a frame of throwing it all out and beginning anew with perfection in mind, but building on what has been to what we want to continue, to discard, to build upon.

Life is not a linear line. It builds on itself and even as we awaken into this new year, we are made up of all the events, happenings, and how we brought our self to it all over all of the old years. Bringing these parts of ourselves into the new — honoring, being with, and companioning all the parts feels so important.

I wish for you a bridge between the old and the new. May it light your days for all the new ones to come based on all of the days and years that have come before.

Here’s to it!

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween
Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to You!

This week marks the epitome of the season. You may find yourself walking through your neighborhood and seeing ghosts, witches, carved pumpkins and more as you wander. Tis the season for Halloween spooks and haunts to come out and play.

Do you get into Halloween? For me, it is a time to don my creativity hat and deck out my home from head to toe with seasonal decorations. And I do mean head to toe. For the past 16 years, I have been collecting seasonal decorations for Halloween and, after all of these years, it is a main event to decorate the Treehouse. Bins full of all sorts of decorations are revealed year after year.

At this point some of these items feel like “old friends.” One of my earliest pieces is a small crow with a purple ribbon around his neck. Each year that I meet him again feels like meeting an old part of myself that used to live in an old apartment with just a little space for something special like Mr. Crow. So, in opening the bins and seeing and touching my decorations is almost like touching parts of myself that are from long ago, but also in my present. I love this.

Creativity, one’s history, and then the spirit of fun all come into play during this spooky Halloween season. Each year, I add some new pieces as well. Inevitably, I donate some pieces that no longer seem to suit and replace them with others that appeal to my eye. At the end of this decorating bonanza, I am literally living in a transformed space which underlies the change of seasons and my own changes within as I ready for the dark days of late Autumn and winter. Even though it is difficult to lose the natural daylight, it is also fun to light up Halloween flames that provide a different light to the home and my days.

I am not sure how you may be celebrating Halloween, but if you celebrate I hope you have a pumpkin to carve or an old friend like my Mr. Crow to sit in a special place in your home or have time to enjoy a walk to see how others may be keeping the spirit of the season. Soon the calendar turns to November — the season of Thanksgiving and gratitude. For now, let’s celebrate the spookiness!

Autumn Sets In

Autumn Sets In
Autumn Sets In

Happy Fall. Last week, the season arrived in all its beauty. And now, as Autumn sets in we are called to check in with ourselves and see how we feel about this change of seasons. Summer is over — and it always feels a bit bittersweet as the long, languid, hot days recede for another year. Summer always feels like the shortest of the seasons. Of course every season is actually equal in time and length, but how we feel it is often different.

I know for many summer is the golden season. Light and heat and vacation time. What could be better? The weekends click on by and here we are at the beginning of Autumn. My Grandmother always used to say, “Once it’s 4th of July, summer is over!” Wait, what? Is it that fast? I always think on the actual 4th of July that there is no way that is the case, but here we are and I remember the 4th of July like it was a moment ago.

Autumn. It is a beautiful time of year as the trees shed their leaves, the holidays are ushered in, the cold nights and smokey air descends, and, of course, the Canadian Geese are making their way south for the winter. I think many of us would like to catch their flight south and keep the summer sunshine and warmth going. Many are noticing that they are slowing down, not having as much energy, and, as the dark descends, there is less light to be productive.

People are beginning to pull out their “happy lamps” to sit in front of during these dark mornings to give them their extra energy and are trying to figure out other strategies to stave off SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is a type of depression that correlates to the Autumn and Winter seasons when a lack of light can move someone to a depressed state.

What are some strategies to help alleviate SAD symptoms? Here are a few:

Use a Happy Lamp – buy a light that you can bathe in throughout the day that emits a certain type of light to help give one energy.

Think about your natural energy rhythms and go with the flow of your own body. If you have more energy in the morning or the middle of the day or night, use it to its max. It may not be the normal way you organize your day, but changing it up to alleviate seasonal depression feels important.

What are your hobbies? Make sure to make time for them – reading, making stuff, cooking, baking, writing, and more. Give yourself even more of the things that make your life meaningful.

Head to bed early. If it is dark and you are tired, give in and enjoy your rest. This feels important although many of us feel pressure to stay up until our regular bedtime.

Enjoy this season. Autumn is a time pumpkin patches, jumping in leaves, pumpkin spice drinks, hikes, apple picking and more. Celebrate the season by noticing the high end of the time and enjoying it – fully.

Each year Autumn comes around – perhaps sooner than you would like – but here we are so be in it as Autumn settles in. Be present and attune not only to yourself, but to where Mother Nature takes us this time of year.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! How did it feel for you to turn the calendar from 2020 to 2021?

Most people I know felt a whole lot of relief and happiness as they saw the end of 2020 – a year that was full if unexpected challenged from public health to job insecurity to financial hardship to isolation and more. Even worse? It was all unexpected — a complete shock to ourselves as things unfolded and then dragged on and on — still actually dragging.

However, there was hope in turning the calendar a few days ago. We did end 2020 with seeing our healthcare workers getting vaccinated. Wow! Our US healthcare system may soon be completely secured from the pandemic. That is definitely hopeful — and we all know that we will have out turn sometime in the New Year.

With the vaccine there is also the hope that our lives will resume to normality — but I am left to wonder will it be a new normal? The pandemic has gone on long enough that people are making new habits, living their lives along different rhythms, and orientating meaning in a different way. Dare I say it almost feels like a return to olden day ways. We are at home most of the time, cooking our own food, spending time with our family constantly – not just quality time – discerning who we really want to share time with via Zoom, engaging with our children on a deeper level, and more. Life has shifted and it’s not all been bad — the break from our break-neck, fast-paced lives has provided us with a different way to live our lives.

How often do we get such a reset in our modern day?

Having had the reset, what will you keep and what will you discard when we are all vaccinated and life is ready to return to “normal?”

As we enter 2021, I am hoping a new normal takes hold that honors the best of who we found ourselves to be in 2020 under extraordinary circumstances and also allows us to bring these parts of ourselves to our lives as we resume normality.

Here’s to it!

Apple Season

Apple Season
Apple Season is Here!

I was just at the grocery store and noticed there are no more plums and peaches available, but rather so many varieties of applies. Definitely! Autumn is here. There is something about apples that take me back to my childhood days when I used to climb the apple orchard trees and pick my one apples. Such a fun excursion! I am curious if you have any fond memories of apple season?

Crunchy, tart, sweet, pies, tarts, hard, red, yellow, cores — some of the first words that come to my mine when I think of apple season.

And now my mind turns to how apples offer us an opportunity to relish the new season. There are so many things you can do with an apple — even putting them into a bowl on the counter to look at or even draw appeals.

Even as a mediation, keep your apples in mind this season:

Sketch an apple

Bake your apples — and what else to make with apples

Cut the apple peel in one long ring — I encourage you to at least try

Core an apple

Pick apples

Go apple picking

Host an apple tasting — can you taste the difference. Even better, blindfold yourself and try to guess the variety

What more can you do with your apples? You tell me. The most important thing is to be mindful that we are in apple season. Relish it!

This is Autumn!

A Plan for Autumn

A Plan for Autumn

Are you an endless summer person or one who is ready for Autumn? Recently, I was reading an article in the NYT about exactly this point in the year. It’s an important moment in the year.

During the regular years of the past, children are actually heading back to school, parents are returning to the hum of their lives with their children preoccupied for the better part of weekdays, we are turning over the closets to our sweaters and boots, apple cider and comfort foods are back in vogue, and all of us can feel the holidays coming — Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas — that is if you live in America and celebrate these holidays.

This year, this moment feels fraught. COVID is still alive and kicking around our communities. Although there is a degree of freedom that most of us did not have in the spring, it’s still advised to maintain distance, stay quarantined in your pod, and restrict what you are doing in the world. If you aren’t restricting it, somewhere guidelines are. So, now, it feels even more poignant to leave the carefree good weather days of summer where outdoor patio dining makes you feel somewhat safe to go out to eat, social distance picnics and camping kept us in real contact with others (goodbye Zoom for awhile!), and it just felt good to exercise outdoors!

So, what is your plan for Autumn? How are you going to approach this moment in the calendar year? Perhaps you are hanging on to dear life to these last days of summer? Perhaps you are already enjoying the pumpkin drinks at the coffee shop? Perhaps you are betwixt and between? It’s a moment to mark and to make a plan.

It’s going to be a different Autumn — many of the traditional activities are nil or on-line, flu season is almost here and so taking care is going to be extra important, we are moving into news media central with an election on in America this November – how will you take care, rejuvenate, stay connected, but also have space and time for you.

It’s time to make your plan for Autumn. May there be many magical moments even as we lose light and the air chills.

Book Review: Gift From the Sea

Gift from the Sea Book
A Perennial Summer Favorite Book

Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh is a perennial favorite book of mine.

Although there are many print runs of this book, my book looks like this one, which was printed in the 1960s. My Mother gave this book to my Grandmother. She must have read it but it sat on her bookshelves for most of her life. However, one day she gave it to me. She tracked who gave the book to whom and on which date. Family history via a book.

In any case, Gift From The Sea is an absolute favorite book of mine. Anne heads to the ocean in the book and enjoys a few weeks of her summer there as she reflects on life via the shells she finds on the beach. It is definitely written in a different time, and it is very obvious that Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a woman of great means and privilege. She had many children, but had the ability and means to remove herself from her family and spend weeks during the summer contemplating what life meant to her, especially her path as a wife and mother.

Although dated, her ideas, thoughts, and the metaphor of the seashells that she uses still resonate. I pick up this book each summer and I underline the ideas and words that resonate with me that summer and I put my initials and the month and year beside what I have underlined. In this way, I am able to track my years by what was resonating at any given time for myself. It’s become a very cool way of looking at myself and the meaning I am making in my world through the years.

This book makes space for contemplation, reflection, and gentleness as we take this journey to find the meaning of our own lives. Reading this book annually is a tradition that I look forward to each summer.

Is there a book that calls to you and that you return to year in and year out? For me, it has to be Gift From the Sea. I highly recommend it to you.

Creativity Burst: Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds – not that exciting by themselves, as are most seeds. However, think of this creative idea as planting sunshine.

We are limited in what we can do these days, but here is a quick and fun idea to do with your family. Head to your local nursery and purchase some packets of sunflower seeds.

From there, take a drive and sprinkle the seeds as you drive along. This would be best to do on a rural or country road near to where you live. Sprinkle away. If you have kids this could be quite entertaining.

That’s all! Now you have to wait for your sunshine to grow. Whether it be later in the season or next year, take a drive and take in the view of the sunshine you planted long ago. The seeds will take hold and grow. Almost a miracle.

You could also do this in your own back yard or neighborhood if you want to see your results closer to home, but I think a refreshing drive out to the country where you scatter sunflower seeds and then get to see them later is such a quaint idea. It’s one that takes both hope and patience. Whenever we plant, it is an act of not knowing if something will bloom – or not.

Just like in our lives we plant many seeds, but then we often don’t know what is going to take hold and bloom. But we plant and scatter seeds and live in hope that what we put our attention to will bloom. It’s all an act of faith.

Plant some sunshine this summer and wait. What bloomed? Perhaps you.